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|Index||16 reviews in total|
Utterly brilliant - I saw this film 17 times in the cinema when it first came out in 1964 - and I was all of 18. I'd never read Hamlet, never heard of Shostakovitch, couldn't speak a word of Russian - and yet this film changed my life! Now it's finally arrived on DVD in all its original splendour, complete with Shostakovitch's sensational score in stereo... The editing of Shakespeare's original by Pasternak is masterly, the direction faultless - but it's Innokenty Smoktunovsky's interpretation of Hamelt that lingers a lifetime in the mind. I've seen every other film adaptation of Hamlet, and none of them come anywhere close to this incredible cinematic masterpiece, which remains my #1 film of all time!
I have to marvel at the production values in this wonderful film. Exquisite sets, lighting and costumes. Stunning location. Epic original music score by Dmitri Shostokovitsch -- the music alone is more than enough to recommend this film. Great acting by, among others, Innokenti Smoktunovsky as Hamlet. Every scene an artistically complete poem of light and sound. Oh, and if you wonder what it's like to hear Shakespeare in Russian . . . it's great! The translation is by Boris Pasternak, one of the finest poets in any language. An epic treatment of the epic story.
I share the previous reviewer's high estimation of this wonderful film. It is a highly political and imaginative interpretation of Hamlet, making Hamlet a man of action who is nevertheless alienated at court. The opening sequence is a stunning interpretation of Hamlet's view that the time is out of joint--Hamlet rushes back to court on horseback even as the flags of mourning are being unfurled. Claudius's speech is delivered by a herald and then translated by ambassadors. When we get to Claudius giving the rest of it to his court, it's not clear how much time, if any, has passed. nor is it clear who is in command (who is giving the orders that the flags be unfurled, cannons fired, the proclamation read, and so on). When Claudius finally addresses Hamlet aft the camera tracks him moving right down the table of courtiers, Hamlet's chair is empty. the opening sequence also moves from open external spaces ( a shot of the sea, a long shot of the land, and moves to increasingly shut in , interior spaces (the castle gates drop as the music gets ominous) to suggest that Denmark is indeed a prison. Visually and musically the film is very rich. I would rank this as the best of the filmed Hamlets.
Film is like a poem - nothing can be added, nothing can be taken away. Black and white shades only add to the graphic drama. Acting is as powerful as a storm on the high seas. I strongly recommend also "King Lire", also in black and white and in the same "Olympic" quality. Note! - not for the blockbuster lovers,movie is very artistic, it requires you to actually understand what is being said.
I have first seen Kozintsev's Hamlet back in 1963 and saw it again yesterday, as part of my job as music critic in a São Paulo newspaper, for the commemoration of Shostakovich's centennial -- he is the author of the soundtrack. The film has not aged, it is still one of the most beautiful adaptations of Shakespeare tragedy, Smoktunovsky's acting is thrilling and Shostakovich's soundtrack is marvelous. His irony reveals itself in the way he accompanies the scene at the graveyard: Hamlet's bittersweet dialog with the gravedigger (what an actor!) and his sad monologue about frailty having in his hand's Yorick's skull. A great film!
Wow! What a film! I saw it recently with three friends at Chicago's Facets Cinematheque, and we were collectively stunned by this film. On at least three occasions, it took my breath away--the ghost on the ramparts sequence, the play within the play sequence, and Ophelia's mad sequence were just incredibly wrought. I can't say enough about this film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Kozinstev does a BEAUTIFUL job with his Hamlet. The choice of black and white, the setting by the sea, his actors, Shostakovich's music... It's all brilliant. The interpretation of Hamlet and his motivations might seem a little sketchy at times, but the overall interpretation is far too commanding to be affected. The portrayal, especially, of Hamlet himself is , simply put, one of the best out there. Smotunovsky's controlled and deliberate performance cannot help but leave you stunned during some of his soliloquies. And in my personal opinion, anyone who has read Hamlet should have to see Kozinstev's vision of Hamlet Sr.'s ghost. SO awesome.
In fact Smoktunovsky was not a Holocaust survivor: he was captured as a soldier wounded in the war, but as he got better he escaped from the German camp., back to the partisans and then he went back into the war. Of course he was very young: only 17-18 when this happened, and became a real actor just in the 1950-s. He was the son of a Russian Jewish family (had Polish roots), and when he was young he wanted to become a film-technician: his career was cut because of the war. After the war he decided to become an actor, but he wasn't able to finish the actor's school: he got actor's jobs in the cities of the Caucasus, where his colleagues taught him how to act, and encouraged him to go to Leningrad and find a job as an actor. He went there into a film-studio, and very hardly but fortunately got a job in the Lenfilm's theatre. The rest is history: he got most of the roles what all actors just dream of but he didn't get conceited. He just humbly served his public till the end of his life.
I recommend this to everyone with a taste for dramatic, striking
imagery. This is undoubtedly the most beautiful black-and-white picture
I've seen so far.
The inevitable subtitles are not that distracting if you're familiar with the basic story (I'm not a Shakespeare buff, so I may have missed some finer points, like a political message). The acting is superb, but never upstages the camera - this is a filmmakers vision, not an expanded stage play.
The drama is heightened by Dmitri Shostakovich's dark, menacing score over the backdrop of rolling waves. A visual and acoustic treat.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've never understood those who insist that Shakespeare's plays were written by an aristocrat like the Earl of Oxford. Only a man who lived life on the edge could have written the way Shakespeare did; it's difficult to imagine an upper-class twit writing "Hamlet" or "King Lear." Perhaps it's easier for people in eastern Europe or the former Soviet Union to understand Shakespeare than Americans; in many ways, living conditions there are much closer to Elizabethan England than anything we can imagine. Like Shakespeare, they have had to endure tyrannical governments, social injustice, religious persecutions, and other ordeals the more prosperous West scarcely remembers. Grigori Kozintsev's "Gamlet" illustrates this thesis. Here is a no-frills "Hamlet," in beautiful black-and-white, with a brilliant score by Dmitri Shostakovich and an exceptional cast. It's not surprising that Innokenti Smoktunovsky (Hamlet) was a holocaust survivor: pain is etched on his face, and for once Hamlet's suffering doesn't seem put on. Anastasia Vertinskaya is lovely as a tiny, fragile Ophelia, and Elsa Radzin is stunning as the queen. This is a surprisingly traditional Hamlet, free of trendy modernistic interpretation, almost nineteenth-century in its use of period detail. It's almost the kind of "Hamlet" one might have seen in the days of Edwin Booth or Sir Henry Irving; only Vertinskaya's beehive hairdo gives it away as having been made in the 1960s.
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